These days, there's a mobile app for just about everything, which makes it all the more difficult to keep track of the ones that can actually save you time, energy, and money. This is a shame, since several retailer apps have managed to sprint ahead of the pack with novel features like simulated home renovation and grocery lists categorized by store aisle. To help you reap the benefits of efficient shopping like never before, here's a list of our favorite, most useful retailer apps.
Home Depot: Re-imagine Your Home
Having trouble envisioning what a home renovation is supposed to look like amidst your existing setup? Home improvement giant Home Depot does the job for you with its augmented reality feature, which allows users to preview remodels including new flooring, cabinetry, and paint, as well as place furniture with the "View This In Your Home" tool.
But that's not all; the brand also has project calculators that prompt you to select dimensions so you can get a better idea of the amount of materials you'd need for a new project. Add in weekly deals, voice searching, shopping lists, QR codes, access to your own Home Depot account for viewing order details, and product reviews, and you've got everything you need for the DIY project of your dreams.
Wegmans: Streamline Your Grocery Shopping
This East Coast supermarket chain boasts a large variety of comprehensive features within its mobile app, offering market-goers a unique shopping experience. Not only are users able to view past purchases in their account — which saves time for repeat orders — but the app also allows you to view product nutritional information, as well as create shopping lists that can include ingredients from a Wegmans recipe or from scanned items. You can then share grocery lists with family members and estimate checkout costs.
We're particularly fond of the way the app offers an aisle-by-aisle route to efficiently get everything on your list. And, taking customer service to a whole new level, the store can notify you if products have been recalled. What's more, shoppers can easily add reward card information at the bottom of their shopping list, which the cashier then scans directly from the phone.
Walmart: Checkout While Your Shop
Walmart's mobile app has similar product-by-aisle, shopping list, and price calculator capabilities, but one added feature saves you even more time. The Scan & Go service helps consumers in a rush: just scan items with your phone and bag them while you shop. This allows customers to head to a self-checkout lane, transfer the basket wirelessly, and complete their payment in a jiffy. Consumers can also interact with in-store displays to access exclusive content through the app's augmented reality feature, receive electronic receipts, and access all of their purchase information later. It's no wonder the brand was voted the 2012 mobile retailer of the year by the Mobile Commerce Awards.
Nordstrom: Play Virtual Dress Up
The luxury brand Nordstrom has quite the lauded customer service reputation already, so it's no real surprise that its mobile app provides guests with more opportunities to be pampered. The new, virtual dressing room via the iPad app allows customers to try multiple looks, mix and match apparel, adjust sizes and make alterations, add products, and generally experiment before making any real-life decisions. The app makes it easy to move products from the dressing room to the shopping cart and save up to 75 looks for later.
On the other end of things, the company has equipped its sales force with iPads so that they can also facilitate the buying process in-store. That means that customers can buy, for example, made-to-measure Joseph Abboud suits once sales reps enter custom measurements into the app and send it to the tailoring facility. The final product is then shipped to the customer within two weeks. Now that's what you call service.
Urban Outfitters: Time to Rock Out
The trendy tween and 20-something clothing haven went fully mobile last year with new point of sale technology that eliminated registers entirely, but that's not the only thing that makes the brand stand out. Since music is important to the average Urban Outfitters customer, and an integral part of the retail experience, the company made music the go-to feature of the new app, which means customers can find out which song is playing in their local store right now, what was recently played, and even take advantage of occasional free downloads.
Sephora: Custom Beauty Advice
Sephora's integration of Apple's Passbook last year opened up new doors for the cosmetics retailer and its customers. Loyalty club members can now access their Beauty Insider points balance and redeem them while shopping in-store via their smartphone.
Customers can also get daily product recommendations from Sephora staffers and personalized expert advice based on their personal beauty profile, pin their wish lists to Pinterest, and view Sephora inspiration boards. The brand also uses the app to engage in push marketing to alert users about holiday shopping events, deals, and product launches. The app essentially puts a plethora of bargains at its customers presumably well-manicured fingertips.
Walgreens: Add Social Commentary to Photo Prints
Walgreens aims to attract the millennial generation by combining both deal-driven and tech savvy features in its mobile app. Not only did the company partner exclusively with Foursquare to embed bar codes in checkout and have coupons running in the Walgreens app itself, but the chain also launched (in conjunction with Facebook) an app called Print Worthy that includes social media comments on prints you order for photos from your profile. Add the option to pin items on store maps, edit photos before printing, set up reminders, and refill prescriptions by scanning them, and the app has everything you need to shop easily.
Geek Squad benefits may be on their own interface, but the original Best Buy app allows you to access Reward Zone account information, see the latest featured offers, compare specs, check current in-store clearances, take images of products that result in suggestions for similar items, and receive push notifications for Best Buy's daily deals. Extra novelty apps from the brand also allow gamers to track trade-in values, calculate Buy Back gift card amounts from electronic trade-ins, and receive updates on when customers should upgrade their phones.
The next time you visit your favorite big brand retailer, remember there are ways to make the chore less painful. These apps will help you snag deals, streamline the buying process, and make your shopping experience much more like the retail therapy we all envision.
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